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Thieves who broke into Arundel Castle in West Sussex late on Friday evening netted a gold, silver and antiques haul from the Duke of Norfolk’s collection before triggering an alarm.
Despite police officers arriving at the historic castle within minutes the culprits cabinet had fled.
Detectives investigating the break-in and theft believe a 4X4 vehicle found on fire nearby is linked to the crime.
A spokesman for Arundel Castle Trustees said; “The stolen items have significant monetary value, but as unique artefacts of the Duke of Norfolk’s collection have immeasurably greater and priceless historical importance.
“We therefore urge anyone with information to come forward to the police to assist them in returning these treasures back where they belong.”
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Sussex Police said: “We are seeking thieves who broke into Arundel Castle and stole gold and silver items worth in excess of £1 million.
"At 10.30pm on Friday 21 May castle staff were alerted of a break in after a burglar alarm had sounded. Police were on the scene within minutes.
“Various items have been stolen of great historical significance. These include the Gold rosary beads carried by Mary Queen of Scots at her execution in 1587, several coronation cups given by the Sovereign to the Earl Marshal of the day, and other gold and silver treasures.
“The rosary is of little intrinsic value as metal, but as a piece of the Howard family history and the nation’s heritage it is irreplaceable.”